Tom McGann – Looking Back To The Future

Tom McGann is one of the select group of people whose names can genuinely be associated with a lifetime of dedication to the broadcasting industry on a global basis. He was one of the founders of the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM) and was Chairman for 23 years from its formation in 1976 until 1999. Tom received the highest acknowledgment of his contribution to the industry when in 1978 he was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his services to British exports and broadcasting.

Tom was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1925, and after leaving school aged 15 he started his career in the transmission department of the BBC. After a period of military service with the Royal Signals and a return to the BBC he joined Pye TVT (later to become Philips) in 1957 where he held several positions before becoming Director of Sales. Tom and his team were associated with the introduction of television to many parts of the world, during which time he visited over 110 countries. Indeed there are people in broadcasting from all quarters of the world who can trace the introduction of television in their country in some way to the arrival of “Tom from Pye”. He was held in high esteem by Prime Ministers and Heads of State both in developed and third world countries. Tom’s technical abilities were never in doubt, but his pre-eminent characteristic was the integrity which he maintained in a marketplace which included countries where this asset was not highly valued.

Tom was one of a group of product suppliers who were frustrated with the cost and performance of the biennial Technical Exhibition at the Montreux International Television Symposium and who wanted to see a continuing annual event managed to meet the needs of the entire industry. Tom, along with others, represented the interests of the broadcast technology suppliers and together they secured the partnership agreement which led to the IABM becoming a stakeholder in the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC). This in turn led to the highly successful annual event in Amsterdam which we know today. Tom’s tenacity, leadership and character were pivotal elements in achieving that outcome.

As he travelled the world on business Tom became a well known ambassador for the IABM as well as a respected supplier to many public and commercial broadcasters. He had a warmth and affability that earned him respect while being recognised as a careful and pragmatic businessman. He took a great interest in the lives and welfare of the people he got to know and they speak warmly of him to this day. Whenever the opportunity arose Tom would share his knowledge and take an interest in the personal development of the people he met. He wanted to see young engineers develop and grow their capabilities especially when they didn’t have the opportunities which he had been given. Tom sadly passed away in 2005.